Colombian pop singer Shakira was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll on Feb 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her father (William Mebarak Chadid) was Lebanese and her mother Colombian (Nidia Ripoll). She says that she writes her music to honor both her Latino and Arabic heritage.
She wrote her first song at the age of 8 and signed her first record deal at 13. She also claims to have written her first poem, “La Rosa De Cristal”, when she was only four.
Around the same time she is to have gone to a Middle Eastern restaurant with her father where she was fist exposed to traditional Arabic music. She says she felt compelled to dance to the music and this was when she first realized she wanted to be a performer.
Under the tutelage of Monica Ariza, Shakira performed in local shows around Barranquilla. When she was thirteen, Ariza was able to convince a Sony Colombia executive, Ciro Vargas, to audition Shakira. While Vargas was impressed with her talents he was not moved enough to sign her. Ariza arranged for another audition for other Sony Colombia executives in Bogotá where she was signed to a three record deal.
Shakira’s first two albums flopped. Shakira was determined that her third album be a success and oversaw every aspect of its production. Her 1996 album Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet) sold more than three million copies. Her follow-up album Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (Where are the Thieves?) in 1998 rose up the Billboard Latin charts selling over seven million copies, catapulting Shakira into superstardom.
Shakira moved to Miami and learned to write songs in English with the help of Emilio Estefan who also produced and managed her.
Her 2001 release of her first English single “Whenever, Wherever” became the best selling single of 2002 and opened up the English-speaking markets. Her album Laundry Service sold over 15 million albums with the help of other hit songs such as “Underneath Your Clothes.”
In 2005 she released Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2 which contained her super-hit “Hips Don’t Lie” which became the best selling song of the 2000′s.
Shakira’s “Waka Waka” (This Time for Africa), was the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
To date, Shakira has sold in excess of 70 million albums worldwide. Shakira has won two Grammy Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards, and twelve Billboard Latin Music Awards. She is, by far, the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time.
Shakira was touched at an early age by those less fortunate and even before her first hit album she is reported to have committed to helping others. She regularly performs at benefit concerts including Live 8 (2005), Live Earth, Clinton Global Initiative. In 2010 she was invited to the Oval Office by President Barack Obama to discuss early childhood development.
She was made a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was awarded a UN International Labor Organization medal in 2010 for her philanthropic efforts.
In late 2012, Shakira was named as a judge/coach on NBC’s The Voice.
Shakira’s Personal Life
Shakira began dating Argentinian lawyer Antonio de la Rúa in 2000. Never marrying, she announced in 2011 that she and de la Rúa had separated.
She is currently in a relationship with Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique. They have a child together, Milan, who was born in 2013.